Minister for Housing still has no plan in place to reverse re-designation of Approved Housing Bodies – Ó Broin
Sinn Féin Housing spokesperson Eoin Ó Broin TD has criticised the Minister for Housing for having no plan in place to work towards reversing the Eurostat decision to re-designate approved housing bodies (AHBs) as part of the government sector. Given that AHBs built more council homes that all local authorities last year, it is vital that these bodies should continue to be adequately funded by central government to continue delivering homes.
Deputy Ó Broin said:
“Eurostat announced its decision to re-designate AHBs as part of the government sector in March this year. However, the government knew this decision was likely since early 2017 and did nothing.
“Since the Eurostat announcement was made, the Department of Housing has not yet met with the AHB sector, nor has it set out a clear plan.
“In response to a parliamentary question I submitted on the matter, I was told that the Department of Finance has acknowledged the decision of Eurostat and that is as far as the government has gotten.
“The Draft Stability Programme update published by the Department of Finance in April this year states that the practical implication of the Eurostat re-designation is that: ‘It will raise the level of general government debt by c. €100 million (0.03 per cent of GDP) and to increase the general government deficit by €470 million (0.15 per cent of GDP) in 2018’.
“This is the annual accumulating cost to the State as a result of this re-designation which means in order to fill the budgetary void cuts will have to be made elsewhere.
“AHBs are set to deliver over a quarter of the
government’s 40,000 real social homes target set out in Rebuilding Ireland. We
all know these homes are desperately needed. The Department of Housing must
urgently set out a plan as to how it plans to reverse the Eurostat decision.” ENDS
Note: Please see the PQ response in question below
For Oral Answer on : 08/05/2018
Question Number(s): 77 Question Reference(s): 19784/18
Department: Housing, Planning and Local Government
To ask the Minister for Housing; Planning and Local Government the status of work to reverse the EUROSTAT decision to redesignate approved housing bodies as part of the Government sector.
As the Deputy will be aware, the Minister for Finance has recently published the Draft Stability Programme Update for 2018. This included an analysis of the financial impact of the Eurostat decision to reclassify the majority of Tier 3 Approved Housing Bodies (AHBs) as part of the local government sector. This was an important first step in the Government's assessment as to the impact of the Eurostat decision.
Following the completion of this analysis, which has defined the scope of the financial implications of this decision for the Exchequer, my Department will be engaging closely with the Department of Finance and Public Expenditure and Reform to ensure that AHBs can continue to fulfil their full potential in the delivery of the targets set out in the Rebuilding Ireland Action Plan. In that context, arrangements are being made for further discussions on the next stage of this process, which will take place in the coming weeks.
I am also aware that the AHB sector have engaged their own research into this important issue and my Department is evaluating the work undertaken in this regard.
The Government continues to see a central role for the voluntary housing sector in contributing to delivery of social housing under Rebuilding Ireland, and is committed to using all mechanisms and schemes, including through the AHB sector, to ensure that we maintain the momentum towards meeting the ambitious 50,000 social housing target under the Action Plan.